When You're Mine (The Gallaghers) by Layla Hagen

I’d planned to go later this evening, but I was already on edge. I couldn't stand being at work anymore. I went to my brother's office. He was at the keyboard typing furiously, and I knew he was programming. Both of us were still very skilled at writing code and enjoyed doing it because we were good at it. Being businesspeople came second, and we always described ourselves as software programmers first, then as business owners. I didn't want to interrupt him, so I sent him a message, letting him know I was heading for the gym. He’d signed up yesterday too, so I was likely to see him there later.

I walked to Genesis since it was a few blocks away. I was proud of my “triangle of efficiency.” My office, my condo, and the gym were all in walking distance from each other, near Battery Park.

The gym was relatively full when I arrived, but it didn’t feel crowded. While I changed, Ian texted me that he was going to drop by the gym too. I went straight to the treadmill, setting the timer for forty minutes. Running gave me a sense of freedom. Growing up in Montana, I was outdoors a lot. Running while overlooking the Hudson River reminded me a bit of home.

Twenty minutes into the workout, a sinful distraction named Mel appeared.


I’d come here every day since I’d signed up three days ago, but I hadn’t seen her again since that first time. I ended my workout early and stepped down as she approached with a huge smile. Her eyes were strikingly beautiful, not just because they were vivid green, but their round shape was simply gorgeous. She’d pulled her dark brown hair on top of her head. I wanted to run my hands through it to feel its silkiness. Even though she was tall, I still towered over her by several inches. Up close, I now noticed a dimple at the right corner of her mouth, something I’d not seen before.

“Hey. Where have you been the last few days?” Mel asked.

Nice to know she missed me.

“You’ve been keeping an eye out for me?” I teased.

She blushed. “I figured maybe you decided not to join after all.”

“I was already signed up. And if I weren’t, meeting you definitely sold me on the gym.”

“How did I manage that? By fainting on you?” she asked with a giggle.

“By promising to spill some secrets next time we meet.”

Her blush intensified. I enjoyed it immensely.

“Oh, that? You remember, huh?”

“Told you that you’re not off the hook.”

“I thought you might say that.”

“Is this why I haven’t seen you around these past few days? Were you hiding?”

Her lips curled in a half smile. They were so fucking tempting that I was itching to touch and taste them.

“So you’ve been keeping an eye out for me too, huh?”

“Both eyes.” I did my two-finger-me-to-you eye point.

She licked her lower lip, glancing away. “Okay... so how many times a week do you train?"

The change of subject surprised me, but I went for it. “I come in daily. But it's more than a workout for me. It's a way to blow off steam. Otherwise, I have far too much adrenaline to sleep, so I need to work it off."

“Hmm." She tilted her head to one side, surveying me. "Yes, I can tell by the rigidness of your shoulders that you're stressed. That means the workout didn't really help you all that much."

“I'm not done yet," I clarified. "I'm hitting the weight area next."

“Well, I have free time on my hands. If you want, I can watch you work out and see if I can give you any tips."

Isabelle's warning rang in my mind, but I wanted to spend time with Mel too much to pay it any attention. I couldn't explain what drew me to her. Last time, I'd put it all down to the protective instincts of mine kicking in. I'd wanted to make sure she was all right; that was why I hung around, as any gentleman would have done. But today was different, and I couldn't use that excuse anymore. She’d been on my mind ever since her unintentional flirty text.

“Sure, why not? I have a weight training program that one of the trainers here designed for me when I joined."

"Why don't you have a personal trainer?" she asked.

"Honestly, it didn't seem like it was necessary, and I didn't want to have to make appointments. I like coming and going whenever I please."

She looked at me with a wry smile. "Okay. Do the exercises, and I'll correct your posture and give you tips."